Jekyll Island Beach 2012

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"I" is for Isolde




The Rogue Speaks:

Here is my contribution to Alphabe-Thursday. I am still on the lookout for an artist, or composer who has led an exemplary life.

Before you get into reading this, pay attention to the music! It is from the opera, Tristan und Isolde, written by German composer, Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883). About the only thing I can say regarding Wagner's personal life is that he didn't drink to excess, or do drugs! He did frequently skip out on his debts, and he did cheat on his wife, but not before she cheated on him. He did have illegitimate children.

This particular passage from the opera, the love theme, is known to many people as Wagner's musical orgasm. If you listen all the way through, you will see why.

Now on to Isolde! Isolde was the daughter of a King of Ireland. In an arranged marriage, she is betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. He was OLD, and Isolde is not happy about getting stuck with him. Her mother isn't too keen on it either, so she gives a flask of a love potion to Isolde's maid. The maid is supposed to give it to Isolde on her wedding night, hoping it will make Isolde's life at least tolerable after the marriage.

A young man, Tristan, the nephew of King Mark, is sent to escort Isolde back to Cornwall for the wedding. They sail away from Ireland, and soon the weather becomes uncomfortably hot for the passengers on board the ship. To keep everyone happy, Isolde sends one of the servants below to find some refreshing drinks for everyone. The first thing he finds, as fate would have it, is the flask of the love potion. I've yet to understand just what he was doing, rummaging through the maid's stuff to find it.

Isolde has no idea what she is doing, but she gives some to Tristan, and then takes a few sips herself. Well, you can imagine what happens next! Eternal love, of course!!

The two just can't stay away from each other, and spend the rest of the trip doing what lovers in the heat of passion do. Unfortunately, the boat ride is way too short, and they soon arrive in Cornwall.

Old uncle King Mark immediately falls in love with the beautiful Isolde. As soon as the wedding is over, King Mark and Isolde retire to the marriage bed. It would not bode well for the relationship should Mark find out that Isolde is not a virgin, so the devoted maid secretly takes Isolde's place in the arms of her new husband. Then Isolde sneaks off to be with Tristan. In the wee hours of the morning, she sneaks back into her husband's bed. Remember, Mark is pretty old, and Viagra hadn't been invented, so she was pretty safe from an early morning wrestling match.

Eventually, Mark finds out about the two lovers, and boy, was he pissed! He forgives Isolde, but not his nephew. It is off into exile for poor Tristan.

Tristan tries to forget about his heartache by joining King Arthur in Camelot. Eventually he makes quite a name for himself in Arthur's court. Subsequently, Tristan is sent on a quest, and while travelling through Brittany, he meets Iseult of Brittany. He fixates on her because of her name. King Arthur arranges the wedding, and so the two marry. Because he is still so desperately in love with Isolde, Tristan doesn't consummate the marriage, and it ends up being a "name only" deal.

Tristan becomes horribly ill. I suspect it was probably salmonella, or maybe e-coli, because there was not refrigeration in those days, and no antibacterial soap. In any case, he is pretty sick!

Tristan, fever raging, sends for Isolde in the hope that she will be able to cure him. This really annoys Iseult, his wife. She thought that eventually he would get over Isolde and they could start having children.

If Isolde, Queen of Cornwall, agrees to come to Tristan's aid, it was decided that the sails on the ship would be white. If she decides to blow him off, then the sails would be black.

Iseult stands at the window, looking for the ship. She is insanely jealous, and resents the fact that Tristan is calling out to another woman on his deathbed. Suddenly she sees the ship and its billowing WHITE sails.

"So sorry, Tristan," she says, "The sails are BLACK. No white sails for you!"

Poor Tristan! He is so overcome with grief, that he just rolls over and dies. When Isolde shows up and finds him dead, she is so broken-hearted that she just drops dead as well.

As most good romantic tales go, the two were buried side by side. From Tristan's grave, there grew a vine, and from Isolde's, a rose, naturally! The two plants became intertwined forever.

Now that you know the story, please listen to the music again. If you didn't get it before, you surely will now.



35 comments:

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Lovely story and lovely music!

Mary said...

Enjoyed the music & your story telling :-)

Jackie said...

Interesting take on the letter I this week . The love of Isolde and Tristan is intriguing sorta similar to the gods so and so lol I can't remember their names but you do a fabulous job and I am amazed at all the stories you know .

Thanks for sharing them with us .

have a nice day

EG Wow said...

Such a sad story! You told it very well, though. :)

Teresa said...

Star-crossed lovers! I must say I prefer the happily ever afters.

CollectIn Texas Gal said...

Thanks for the background on Tristan and Isolde...now I won't have to see the movie. Moral of the story...don't send a man on a maids errand!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love opera and attend at least four at The Met every year, but I have yet to go to a Wagner opera. I usually stick to the Italian composers. Now you have me intrigued by the music and story so I will see if I can add Tristan and Isolde to my series this season. Thanks! Wonderful letter "I"

Francisca said...

Well told, your story of Isolde, and a good choice for I day. If I was supposed to hear Wagner's opera here, I did not. I'll be going to an opera concert (not a whole opera)this weekend, so maybe I'll hear it then.

askcherlock said...

What a tangled story, but compelling. And the music is perfect. It is a haunting melody. Great post, Judie!

Anna said...

I've read Tristan and Isolde before, but your retelling of it was just fine. Nice choice for I-week!
Thank you for visiting my 'I is for Inventor-post'. Since several have expressed an interest, I am going to ask the factory what colours the cups come in and check prices. If these are not available outside of Sweden, maybe I can sell some to you if you think the price and colour suits your needs. Is there any colour you wish that the cups were?
Best wishes,
Anna
For the benefit of other readers:
Anna's 'I is for Inventor'-JennyM's AT

myorii said...

What an interesting story! In my opinion, much more interesting than Romeo and Juliet. Though in a way, you kind of have to wonder if Tristan and Isolde were truly in love or if it was the potion working all that time. Of course, it's always better to believe that they really did fall in love, right?

It makes me sad that I can't hear the music that you have playing on your website because I'm overseas and there are licensing restrictions. I guess I should try to find a youtube video or something so I can hear the song too.

Jingle said...

I always fancy music,
u r a true story teller.
keep it up.
Happy Thursday!

Nora Johnson said...

Love the music- one of my favorite operas! Superb 'I' post!

XOXO Lola:)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

How sad! At least they died together if not at the same time.

Terra said...

I often feel ignorant when I come here...your information is so cool

Amiko said...

I feel sorry for Tristan and Isolde, but that's a sweet story. And I love the music too playing in piano (Wagner-Liszt: Liebestod from Tristan Und Isolde, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UQrOIa7coc&feature=related).

Thanks for sharing Judie.

Marlee said...

Still laughing over the reference to the early morning wrestling match (or lack thereof)! Beautiful background music!!

I Wonder Wye said...

Lovely music. I am an opera lover. The art work featured here is just wonderful -- had to come by and tell you how much i like your hair color. izzy is a doll...

Angelia Sims Hardy said...

Awh!! I was hoping for a an ever after - alive(ish). Ha. I love the way you tell a tale. I can imagine listening to you for hours. The things in your artistic mind. :-)

House Revivals said...

Loved this! I felt like you were barely taking a breath during this! Wonderful.

Cheryl D. said...

What a sad story! I've heard of it, but never knew what it was about before.

Juliana said...

Oh Judie, this is priceless! I was taught all this stuff at school but it was so dry. If we had had a teacher like you, to tell the story like this, I am sure I could have felt far more emapthetic towards poor old Tristan!
I struggle with Wagner - once read that Himmler used to get sexually aroused when listening to Wagner and it sort of put me off!

Tina said...

The story sounds really interesting. I have never been to an opera but this one seems like it would have me stuck to my seat.

•••Mumsy••• said...

Wonderful music, and this is the kind of love story that keeps us dreaming for a beautiful love.

I like how you tell it!

Theresa said...

Hi Judie! Loved your "I" post! Beautiful art and tragic romance. For some reason, didn't hear the music part so I will have to do some googling since I'm so curious now!

mle said...

Judie, you are such a wonderful storyteller - you make everything sound interesting! & you make me chuckle, too : )

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Judie, I enjoy your explanations on stories that I've always avoided reading. Just couldn't get into them, but after reading your take, I just might. Thank you.
:-)

nothingprofound said...

"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." Whenever I hear Wagner's name, I always think of this Mark Twain quip. You did a lovely job describing the zany romance of these drug-induced lovers. Two old friends of mine fell in love under the influence of LSD and their relationship suffered a similar fate. Wagner, of course, was a notorious anti-semite, which was very fashionable in his day. He was Hitler's favorite composer. Chagall lived a pretty exemplary life, from what I hear, as well as Matisse and a few others. Though I'm sure there are skeletons in the closet, we've never heard of.

Judie said...

Marty, if there are skeletons, I will find them out!! Thanks for adding to my story. Check Juliana's comment about Wagner, and Himmler's reaction to his music. I'm sure I know what he was listening to!!!

taylorsoutback said...

While the rest of my generation was locked into early R & R/Blues, I was an odd ball listening to Wagner and dreaming of star crossed lovers - thank you for providing more background on those ill-fated two.

Jenny said...

I like your re-telling Judie. It actually helped me understand the premise of this story much better than I have in the past.

I wish you would have been my lit teacher. It hink I would have walked away with much greater understanding of these magnficent works of art.

Thank you for linking to Alphabe-Thursday! I am always anxious to see what you are going to teach us each week!

A+

Lourie said...

I have to second Miss Jenny! It would have made it so much better! Worlds.

Splendid Little Stars said...

enjoyed your telling of the tale, the pictures, the music.

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